A Modesto police detective says he found a loaded .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun in the glove compartment of Scott Peterson's pickup on Christmas Eve, but prosecutors have not said whether they think the gun was involved in the death of Peterson's wife, Laci.
According to Detective Al Brocchini, Peterson said he last fired a gun about a month before his wife's disappearance, and that he consented to having his hands swabbed to test for gun residue.
Brocchini said Peterson first asked if exhaust from an outboard motor that he operated on Dec. 24 would trigger a positive result.
When cross-examined by defense attorney Kirk McAllister later Thursday, Brocchini said he did not know if the swabs were tested.
Brocchini said he told Peterson that it was "illegal to have a loaded gun in the glove box, and I was going to put it into evidence."
Peterson, however, apparently did not realize that the gun had been seized. In a call to the detective, Peterson said he wished he had been told that his handgun had been confiscated.
When found in the truck, the gun's handle grips were missing, exposing cart-ridges in the magazine, and there was no round in the chamber, Brocchini testified.
Peterson recounted the last time that he attempted to fire the gun, according to Brocchini. Peterson said the gun "dry-fired" and then misfired on the second attempt, Brocchini said.
Under questioning by McAllister, Brocchini said he took the gun and put it in his pocket when Peterson was not looking. The two then drove together to Peterson's warehouse, then to the police station.
Brocchini said he was not worried about accidental discharge while carrying the loaded gun in his pocket.
No cause of death was listed by coroners who examined the remains of Laci Peterson and her son after they were found in April along the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay.
Bee staff writer John Coté can be reached at 578-2394 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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